The Groundsman

November 2012

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34 FOOTBALL Pitch perfect When the FA's National Football Centre at St George's Park was formally opened last month, the event gave a number of suppliers the perfect oppurtunity to showcase their products and services. We also talked to Head Groundsman, Alan Ferguson, about his role Set in National Forest, Staffordshire, the National Football Centre covers 330 acres – including two hotels, a sports science facility and FA offices. It features 12 pitches (ten natural and two synthetic) and the largest synthetic indoor facility in the UK. The site is unique in that it offers four different pitch profiles; a Desso GrassMaster, plus four fibresand, five natural turf and two 3G synthetic surfaces. Head Groundsman Alan Ferguson has worked flat out with his team to get the pitches to a peak level of perfection, and he has masterminded their three stages of development – construction, operational and completion. "It has been an enormous project to co-ordinate all of the grass areas as well as the utilities, floodlighting and irrigation, but we've come through the construction side and are now in the operational phase," says Alan. To help the project run smoothly, Alan chose specific companies and suppliers to work with, due to their reliability, back- up support and expertise. Campey Turf Care Systems has worked closely with him throughout pitch construction and renovation. "Campey is the ideal turf renovation partner," says Alan. "The company has a huge and diverse range of equipment, as well as the necessary expertise." Alan Ferguson "Since the initial renovation, the pitches have not been affected particularly by the poor weather as they are well constructed and well drained. The worst areas are the 'off-pitches' which have been too wet to fully landscape." he says. Boomer tractors showcased St George's Park played host to New Holland's dealer network last month, when the company showcased its Boomer Compact Tractor range that has been extended and upgraded with the introduction of six new models. The complete Boomer offering now delivers powers spanning 23–51 HP with a range of specifications. The dealer convention followed on from a recent deal which has seen New Holland supply the FA with a Boomer 2035, Boomer 3045, T4020 and T4050 to assist with the on-going maintenance of the pitches at the site. For Alan, the future is about planning the maintenance around the usage programme for each type of surface. He explains that the groundscare team intend to run with the FA-recommended average playing times – five to six hours a week on the natural pitches, 60 hours on the synthetics, 20 hours on the GrassMaster stadium pitch and between 15 and 20 on the fibresand. The centre is on target for 85 per cent annual capacity in advance pitch the Groundsman November 2012

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